It’s only training, but Government jet fighters terrify Karen villagers

Karen villagers working in their rice fields and plantations were terrified when jet fighters starting dropping bombs and machine-gunning the area. Government authorities failed to warn citizens that the jet fighters were taking part in a military training exercise in the Taungoo District.

Villagers in the Tantabin Township region of Taungoo District said they were frightened by the explosions made as the jets roared overhead unleashing their deadly cargo.

A villager (who asked not to be named) told Karen News that the military training took place on three days, November 9, 10 and 15 and included a low flying fighter jet, bombing and machine gun firing from the flying plane.

“We were scared by the loud explosions… bombs and machine guns. We were frightened. We were out harvesting our rice, beans and other crops when the planes flew over. We dared not work on our farms to harvest our crops.”

Villagers say the military training took place in an area about four miles east of Tantabin Township in the vicinity of Kyun Gon, Shwe Zay, Pe Pobe, Chaung Wa and Kayin Ni Gon villages.

A local official from the Karen National Union told Karen News that there is no Air Force in Tantabin Township, but as the area is under the control of Southern Regional Command it is possible the plane may have come the air force base at Taungoo.

The KNU official said local villagers complained and questioned why the government is allowing military training when there is a ceasefire agreement with the KNU in place.

“There hasn’t been any reported violations to human rights or the killing of livestock due to the military training, but villagers are scared and it forced them to stop working on their crops. It has had a negative impact on the villagers’ peace of mind.”

Local sources said there is no government ground troops based in the area where the Air Force had its training. The government’s Infantry Battalion 39 is based close to the area, four miles east of Taungoo, while Light Infantry Battalion 73 is based in the Zayat Gyi area, 10 miles south of Taungoo Town.

The KNU official said that the government troops have conducted military training in the Taungoo area before, but only with ground troops and this was the first time that Air Force training had taken place in the Taungoo area.

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